Resveratrol is a plant compound derived from red grapes that has antioxidant-like properties. There are numerous possible health benefits of resveratrol.

Many people use resveratrol as a health-boosting supplement. Research has linked the compound to potential health benefits such as improved brain health and blood pressure. However, resveratrol may also come with some side effects.

This article will explore resveratrol’s potential health benefits, its side effects, when and how to consume it, and more.

Close up of grapes that contain resveratrol.Share on Pinterest
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Resveratrol is a compound that belongs to a group of polyphenols called stilbenoids. These compounds consist of two phenol rings connected by an ethylene bridge.

Resveratrol is present in more than 70 plant species but primarily in the skin and seeds of red grapes. It is also a phytoalexin, a protective antibiotic that plants produce when under stress. Phytoalexin helps plants recover from fungal attacks, ultraviolet radiation, and other threatening circumstances.

When people consume reservatrol, it helps the body detoxify harmful molecules, much like antioxidants do.

The human body metabolizes the compound quickly. It is fat-soluble and has anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, and estrogenic activity. Resveratrol is one of the substances behind the health benefits of drinking red wine.

Learn more about the health benefits of red wine.

Resveratrol has links to many possible health benefits, though they mostly have correlations to the compound rather than directly to the consumable supplement. The benefits include:

  • antioxidant effects on free radicals
  • anticancer effects
  • cardioprotective effects
  • neuroprotective effects
  • anti-inflammatory activity

Research shows that resveratrol plays a role in protecting ovary health and improving lung function. It notably improves glucose homeostasis, providing insulin resistance by activating sirtuin, which regulates metabolism in insulin-target organs.

In addition, resveratrol may serve as a therapeutic agent for rheumatoid arthritis, as well as for male infertility and testicular malfunction.

More research is needed, as most of the above studies are animal studies. Human studies will help shed further light on resveratrol’s potential health benefits.

People use resveratrol for a number of other ailments, including stomachaches, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, and fungal diseases. However, there is even less research to support the compound’s effectiveness in these cases, and more research is needed to support these claims.

While resveratrol has fewer potential side effects than potential benefits, some studies show that it may behave as a pro-oxidizing agent in the body.

This means that, rather than consistently work to slow or prevent cell damage that free radicals cause, resveratrol may exhibit pro-oxidant properties, leading to cellular DNA damage and oxidative stress.

Generally, if a person takes resveratrol in small amounts for a short time, they will not experience side effects. However, at doses of 2.5 grams (g) or more per day, the following side effects may occur:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • liver dysfunction.

Researchers conducting long-term clinical trials did not record any major side effects.

In a small study from 2016, one participant developed fever and bicytopenia (reduced blood cells) while receiving 1.5 g of resveratrol per day for 6 months.

High doses of resveratrol can inhibit enzyme activity that could increase the bioavailability and toxicity of certain drugs. There is also a relationship between resveratrol and transporter drugs, though scientists do not yet fully understand it.

Finally, research suggests that resveratrol may hinder human platelet aggregation. As a result, there is an increased risk of bleeding when people take resveratrol with anticoagulant drugs, antiplatelet drugs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The easiest way to consume resveratrol in safe amounts is via grapes, wine, blueberries, cranberries, pomegranates, and juices that contain these fruits.

Some people also take resveratrol supplements, especially for lowering blood pressure. Many of these supplements contain much higher doses of resveratrol than a person would naturally consume from food sources.

The proper dosage of resveratrol is unclear, and medical professionals continue to debate it.

Clinical trials show that it is technically safe to take resveratrol in doses of up to 5 g per day, though taking more than 2.5 g per day is likely to result in abdominal side effects such as cramping, flatulence, and nausea.

A 2015 review found that 150 milligrams or more of resveratrol effectively lowered systolic blood pressure but had no significant effects on diastolic blood pressure.

More studies are necessary to determine a safe, effective dose for humans, as human trials have found many conflicting results.

Overall, people have different tolerance levels for resveratrol, and there is no universally recommended dose. A person should talk with a healthcare professional about the dose that might be safest and most beneficial for their body.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound present in grapes, some berries, and other fruits and nuts.

It often mimics antioxidant activity in the body and may provide many health benefits. Research most supports its use for cardiovascular protection and blood pressure regulation.

People may consume resveratrol through foods or supplements. There is no conclusive recommended dosage for resveratrol, but consuming large amounts may lead to gastrointestinal upset.

A doctor, dietitian, or other qualified health professional may be helpful in determining the appropriate amount of resveratrol for an individual.